Why ignoring your workforce could be damaging your innovation output
Your workforce represents a wide pool of talent and new ways of thinking, yet more often than not, the potential of this pool of knowledge is ignored.
Listening and acknowledging the input from everyone across your organisation is key, not only for staff engagement but also to ensure that the business grows and evolves at the right pace and in the most appropriate direction. Internal crowdsourcing is cost effective and represents a proactive approach to innovation. The benefits are clear and abundant, so why are executives continuing to overlook the innovation potential harboured in their workforce?
CEOs are hard-wired to avoid risking time and money on new ideas that are not already part of their plan. This is often compounded by a lack of processes in place to capture ideas, a failure of trust in the calibre of ideas being produced and a general lack of prioritisation allocated to innovation. In this post we consider why listening to your workforce can provide significant value and unlock a fulfilling culture of innovation.
Generally a higher number of people make up the lower ranks of an organisation and it’s not rocket science to work out that your workforce represents talent in numbers. More people means more brainpower means more ideas. Restricting innovation and input to the senior ranks is limiting and represents a waste of the knowledge being harboured by the rest of your staff. Leverage the power of these collaborative minds to boost your innovation output.
The lower rankings of an organisation tend to comprise an increased number of younger employees, which represents a significant shift in the structure of a workforce. Millennials are characterised by their ‘always on’ mentality. With unlimited access to content, information at their fingerprints and an unrelenting dedication to staying up-to-date with trends, they are an invaluable resource. Trends move fast and you need an army of millennials to stay ahead of these digital changes. Having them in your workforce is not enough – listen, acknowledge and act.
Inevitably, your workforce will have a different perspective to those occupying senior management positions. Rather than let this put you off giving due credit to their input and ideas, it should be seen as a positive way of generating unique and out-of-the-box ideas. Your staff are the frontline of your business and have a different and often closer experience of the services, products and customers. Senior management can be distanced from these, especially from the internal processes within your organisation. Therefore it makes sense that the individuals who comprise your workforce can offer more genuine insights than any outside consultant or senior executive ever could.
We have spoken about leveraging the number of employees within your workforce but it won’t be as effective if all staff adopt the same way of thinking. For this reason it is important to hire a diverse workforce in order to make the most of this valuable pool of resources. Hire candidates with a range of backgrounds to increase the pool of creativity. If you only err towards the same calibre of candidate every time and avoid the unorthodox then your workforce will not be diverse enough to open up the full range of ideas and innovation possible.
Being able to trust your employees and their ideas may seem obvious but it is often easier said than done. Of course not all ideas will be great, in fact only a small number will likely be worth pursuing, but it is crucial to establish that bond of trust and acknowledgement in order to create an open flow of ideas. It is about creating a culture in which your workforce feel safe and confident to innovate.
- Ignoring the input and ideas of your workforce can be damaging to your innovation strategy and will alienate employees.
- Leverage the wide knowledge pool and different backgrounds of your employees to generate fresh perspectives and original ideas.
- Trust employees with innovation initiatives and have faith in their input – demonstrate that you are listening and act on their suggestions.